Some thing that has been getting my attention lately is the various dynamics that take place in the course of any relationship. I think society covers these things in the case of romantic relationships in depth. You can’t turn on a TV, or look in a book store without seeing some things about romantic relationships, or familial relationships, but I find that close friendships have just as many, if different, complications.
It is unsurprising, yet problematic, that so many of us really don’t understand ourselves, and what we can offer in a friendship. On one hand, plenty of survivors don’t think they have much to offer to other people, and thus wind up missing out on friendship opportunities. That’s sad on a number of levels, none more so than the wonderful addition to life good friends can be. On the other hand, too many of us also allow our hearts to lead us into relationships that we really have no business being in. As survivors, we have an incredible capacity for empathy. That’s a wonderful thing, but we also have to be somewhat careful in this regard.
It’s almost second nature for us to want to support and help, but sometimes, we can’t. Sometimes people need more than we are able to give, and instead of recognizing that, we get heavily involved only to fail later. Other times, the other person is just beyond our help.
It’s important to remember in either case, that it’s ok to withdraw, or even in some cases, end a friendship because it’s too much. Our first responsibility is to ourselves, which includes our own health and well-being. After that, I do think we have a responsibility to help, support and give of ourselves to others, but not everyone. We simply can’t give of ourselves to everyone who needs it. You are one person, with limitations on your time, energy, compassion and everything else. No one has the right to require you to give past your limitations, nor should anyone expect you to. Real friends appreciate the support you can offer them they don’t demand more. They understand that, at the end of the day, it is not your responsibility to take care of them, it’s their own.
That being said, consider yourself very lucky if you have friends willing to give you what they can, and willing to lean on the support you can, and willingly do, give them when they need it.